AN EXPECTANT MOTHER goes through many changes during pregnancy beyond the baby bump and some funny cravings. Unfortunately, some of the changes to oral health are not especially pleasant.
Pregnancy Gingivitis and Hormones
No matter how exciting and hectic pregnancy can be, never let it get in the way of daily brushing and flossing, because pregnancy is a time when the gums are especially vulnerable to gingivitis. As many as two in five pregnant women have gum disease, which leaves their gums tender and swollen. Studies have even linked pregnancy gingivitis with premature delivery and lower birth weights, so fight back with daily flossing and a soft-bristled toothbrush!
Morning Sickness and Enamel Erosion
One of the more common (and certainly more well known) pregnancy symptoms is morning sickness. It’s an unpleasant enough symptom to deal with on its own, but when we aren’t careful, it can have compounding effects on our teeth. Despite tooth enamel being the hardest substance in the human body, it is highly vulnerable to acid erosion, and frequent vomiting due to morning sickness will put the enamel in contact with a lot of strong acid.
A good way to minimize the effects of the stomach acid is to swish with baking soda and water after a bout of morning sickness. Make sure not to brush until after you’ve done this, or you risk additional erosion!
Pyogenic Granuloma During Pregnancy
This one is extremely weird: some pregnant women develop raspberry-like gum tissue growths between their teeth. They’re called pyogenic granulomas or “pregnancy tumors.” They generally appear in the second trimester and vanish on their own after delivery. Pyogenic granulomas are benign, but they can be removed if they’re causing too much discomfort.
Nutrition and Dental Health (of Mom and Baby)
Dental health professionals tend to recommend cutting back on sugary treats no matter what the circumstances are, since sugar is harmful oral bacteria’s favorite food, and pregnancy is no exception. Consuming less sugar will go a long way towards protecting your teeth and gums, and focusing on essential nutrients (particularly vitamins A, C, and D, along with lots of calcium, protein, and phosphorous) will help the development of Baby’s teeth!
The Dentist Is a Great Resource
Keeping up with daily oral hygiene habits and eating healthy are critical during pregnancy, but another factor in maintaining good oral health is the dentist! Don’t forget to include regular dental appointments in your schedule, especially if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums. If it’s been a while since your last appointment, go ahead and schedule one!